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Veteran's PTSD Rates Reportedly Higher in Current Iraq Conflict

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Washington, DCThe horrors of armed conflict coupled with combat stress and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), creates for the veteran a war that continues in their head long after they arrive home to safe harbor. Veteran's disabilityall too often extends beyond obvious physical trauma, such as flesh wounds or lost limbs. Veterans PTSD is a huge and growing problem.

"At least 30 percent of Iraq or Afghanistan [veterans] are diagnosed with PTSD, up from 16 percent to 18 percent in 2004," said Charlie Kennedy, PTSD program director and lead psychologist at the Stratton VA Medical Center, in comments published May 22nd and posted online by the news service AlterNet.

"The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans getting treatment for PTSD at VA hospitals and counseling centers increased 87 percent from September 2005 to June 2006, and they have a backlog of 400,000 cases, including veterans from previous wars. The most conservative estimates project that roughly 250,000 Iraq war veterans will struggle with PTSD."

"Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is the result of subtle biological changes in the brain chemistry as a response to severe stress, which alters the way the brain stores memories," AlterNet says. "During a particularly intense episode, the body releases massive amounts of adrenaline, and the physiological alterations associated with the intense emotional reaction create memories that disrupt normal life.

"Veterans screening positive for PTSD reported significantly more physical health symptoms and medical conditions than did veterans without PTSD. They were also more likely to rate their health status as fair or poor and to report lower levels of health-related quality of life."

Among soldiers who develop PTSD, "there was a strong reported relation between combat experiences, such as being shot at, handling dead bodies, knowing someone who was killed, or killing enemy combatants."

AlterNet notes that unlike the iconic Vietnam conflict, where most soldiers did a single tour of duty, many troops are serving two, three and even four tours of duty in Iraq. The incidence rate of veterans PTSD is higher in Iraq than in any other previously monitored war, AlterNet states.

"Suicide accounted for over 25 percent of all noncombat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006, that's double what it was in peace time and much higher than rates from Iraq War I and Vietnam."

Thankfully, there are several treatment options, including Brief Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Prolonged Exposure that appears to be having some positive affect.

That's assuming a veteran suffering in this way, can get treatment through veterans compensation and veterans disability benefits.


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